Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Mathy Celebration of National Poetry Month

     It is a delight to me to see math and science publications including poetry!  Today I am enjoying the work of North Carolina poet Britt Kaufmann -- Kaufmann works as a math tutor -- and her poem "Midnight Calculus" appeared in the February 2024 issue of Scientific American.  The accompanying bio mentioned that Kaufmann took her first calculus course at age 47.

     More recently, under the heading "In Celebration of National Poetry Month," MAA FOCUS, the Newsmagazine of the Mathematical Association of America. another Kaufmann poem appeared, "Z-score of Zero."   (A z-score measures exactly how many standard deviations above or below the mean a particular data-number is.)  Kaufmann gives us a thoughtful poetic reflection of math on life!  

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Geometry of Distraction

      California poet Carol Dorf is a retired math teacher and writer of a very varied library of poems, including many with math connections.  It has been my pleasure to read with her at math-poetry readings and to include a number of her poems here in my blog.  (This link leads to a list of my many postings of her work here in this blog.)
    Browsing online today, I have come across still another one of Dorf's mathy poems which I would like to share.  Here are the opening lines of "Spring Again: -- and the complete poem is found here at

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Enjoying Math-Poetry Connections

           Poet Emily Lutken's first career was as a physician -- she specialized in family medicine and spent many years of practice in the Navaho Nation.  Following this she taught middle and high school math and science for several years , , , and now, retired, she has time for music, poetry, and other arts.

     On my shelf --- for my frequent rereading and enjoyment -- is a copy of Lutken's 2021 collection, Manifold:  poetry of mathematics. (3: A Taos Press, 2021).   Here is a favorite poem of mine from that collection:

   Prime Syllable Song    by Emily Lutken

          do not care
          to make a rhyme.
          They blaze wild pathways.
          While others tow the line,
          they play crwths or smash guitars,
          unlike composite counts assigned
          to echo harmonic notes in time
          and avoid the oddball and ill-defined.
          Without primes, though, the music would be boring,
          the sing-song regularity, the constant whine
          would drive all of us absolutely batshit bonkers.

This link leads to more information about Manifold, in which the poem above is found.  This link leads to Lutken's website -- which includes more poetry and a bio of the poet.

This link leads to a poem by Lutken about a solar eclipse.  

Another of Lutken's poems, "Ars Parabola," appears in this blog at this link.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Using POETRY as an aid in learning MATHEMATICS

     "Math problems take on new meaning in this class that combines rhymes and verse with math instruction."

     The above quotation comes from the website The Conversation, from a series entitled Uncommon Courses -- a series that highlights unconventional approaches to teaching.  In an article entitled "Rhyme and reason -- why a university professor uses poetry to teach math," Ricardo Martinez -- who teaches mathematics education at Penn State University --  tells how math problems take on new meaning in a class that combines rhymes and verse with math instruction. 

 As he tells about the course, Martinez explains:

I have always enjoyed writing poetry. As a high school mathematics teacher, I recall telling my students that everything is and can be connected to math, even creative writing. Then, as a graduate student, I read about people using “I am” poem templates for young people to express who they are through a series of “I am” statements, and I thought to myself, where is the “I am” math poem template? So I created one. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Math meets Poetry -- Student's Senior Project

      Lawrence "Larry" Lesser is a mathematics and statistics professor at the University of Texas in El Paso -- and is also an active poet and song-writer.  This link leads to my previous inclusions of his poetry and ideas earlier in this blog.  Recently one of Lesser's Facebook postings led me to an article about a student at Kalamazoo College in Michigan who combined math with poetry for her senior project.  This article about Elizabeth "Lizzy" Rottenberk tell how her loves for mathematics and poetry connect and it offers the following sample math-poetry pair:

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A blog posting written by ChatGPT 3.5

     For a long time I have been curious about what would result if I asked AI to write a blog post for me.  One day recently I signed in at and was asked by ChatGPT 3.5,  "How can I help you today?"  Copied and pasted below is our conversation (copied from this link).  (I am disappointed that ChatGPT's respones did not, as my postings usually do, include a poem.)  Read -- and reflect!

UserI have a blog entitled "Intersections -- Poetry with Mathematics" and I would like Chat GPT to write a blog posting for me.  

From ChatGPT: 

Title: Exploring the Symmetry of Numbers: A Mathematical Poetic Journey

Welcome back to "  Intersections -- Poetry with Mathematics"! Today, let's delve into the captivating world where numbers and poetry intertwine, creating harmonies of symmetry and rhythm. Join me on this whimsical voyage where mathematical concepts dance with lyrical verses, inviting you to see the beauty in both.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

They Say She WAS GOOD (for a woman)!

     March is Women's History Month; March 23 1882 is the birthdate of Emmy Noether (1882-1935).  Here is a photo of Noether from a  Twitter X posting from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at St. Andrews -- and it is followed by a stanza from a poem about Noether that I was inspired to write many years ago; following those lines, a link to previous poetic postings about Noether in this blog.


Thursday, March 21, 2024

March 21 -- Celebrate World Poetry Day

 This blog has lots of poetry possibilities!
Scroll down and choose a mathy poem!


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Honoring Math Teacher and Poet, Amy Uyematsu

      On Saturday, March 23 at 2 PM, a poetry-event is planned at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California to celebrate the life of poet, math teacher, and activist Amy Uyematsu (1947-2023).  It was my pleasure to be connected to Amy via various math-related events and her work has been included in previous postings in this blog.  (Here's a link to a list of those earlier posts.)

     One of my favorite poems of Amy's is  "The Meaning of Zero:  A Love Poem."  The complete poem is found here at Poets. org and in the collection Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics-- and I offer its opening stanzas below.

Uyematsu's complete poem is available at this link.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Discovery Tool -- Following a Pattern

     When I pick up a pen to write on a particular subject, often it is useful me to try to follow a pattern for rhymes or syllable-counts -- for the effort to conform to a pattern challenges me to think about my topic in new ways.  In the history of poetry, rhyme-choices were frequent--yielding sonnets, villanelles and a variety of other forms.  

     In recent years, online and printed versions of poems have become very accessible and the principle, "Rhymes help us remember" has become less of a focus in poetry.  One of the popular connections between math and poetry has been the use of Fibonacci numbers to choose syllable counts;  especially  popular has been the FIB, a six-line stanza in which the syllable-counts are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 -- the first six Fibonacci numbers.  (Inventor of the FIB was Greg Pincus, and lots of information is provided here in this 2010 blog posting, Poems with Fibonacci number patterns.)  

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Celebrate Pi

     Soon it will be Pi-Day (3.14) and this year I again call your attention to a poem by one of my long-time favorite poets -- the poem "Pi" by Polish Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012).   I offer a portion of the poem below (followed by a link to the complete poem).

from    Pi     by Wiwlawa Szymborska  

 (translated from Polish by Clare Cavanaugh and Stanislaw Baranczak (1946-2014)).

     The admirable number pi:
     three point one four one
     All the following digits are also initial,
     five nine two because it never ends.
     It can’t be comprehended six five three five at a glance,
     eight nine by calculation,
     seven nine or imagination,
     not even three two three eight by wit, that is, by comparison
     four six to anything else
     two six four three in the world.
     The longest snake on earth call it quits at about forty feet.
     Likewise, snakes of myth and legend, though they may
                hold out a bit longer.
     The pageant of digits comprising the number pi
     doesn’t stop at the page’s edge.        . . .
               .  .  . 

The entire Szymborska-poem is may be found here at the website "Famous Poets and Poems" and also here in an online pdf of the booklet Numbers and Faces:  A Collection of Poems with Mathematical Imagery -- a collection that I edited on behalf of the Humanistic Mathematics Network.

This link connects to a list of previous blog-posts of Pi-related poems. 

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Celebrating Women who write Mathy Poems

       Now in March -- in Women's History Month -- many writers are taking a bit of extra time to explore the history and achievements of women.  It was my delight to find a March 6 posting here on the Poetry Blogging Network with a list of celebrated women in poetry that includes several writers of mathy poems.  Of the ten poets listed, the following five have been included in this blog -- in earlier postings.  For each, I include a mathy sample and the poet's name is linked to earlier postings that include their work.

     Adrienne Rich   from Planetarium 

             a woman      ‘in the snow     
             among the Clocks and instruments              
             or measuring the ground with poles  

            in her 98 years to discover    
            8 comets

Monday, March 4, 2024

Multiple Meanings -- in Poetry, Math, and Jokes

     One of the challenging AND enriching qualities of both mathematics and poetry is the multiplicity of meanings that particular expressions may have. This quality also is found in jokes -- and in the Math Blog of MIT math-scholar Tanya Khovanova I recently enjoyed some entertaining mathy riddle-jokes and below I offer a sample: 

Here is a link to Khovanova's complete blog-posting.  Enjoy!

For biographical and contact information for Khovanova, here is a link to her webpage -- and here aa link to her poem "Nerdy Wedding" and, finally, a link to an earlier posting of her work in this blog.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A poem-title that drew me in -- "Calculus I, II, III"

      A poetry event that I often enjoy is the posting by the Academy of American Poets of a poem-a-day -- today's poem is found here  and  information about the posting is found here at  my background in mathematics helped me to be especially pleased early this month (on 2/2) when the daily poem (written by poet and artist Brad Walrond) was entitled "Calculus I, II, III" -- and if offers reflection on different levels of learning.  Below I offer a few lines from the poem; the complete poem is available at this link.

from     Calculus I, II, and III    by Brad Walrond

      . . .    this calculus

     —how one body
     relates to another—

     that disturbs all the peace

     is the same as learning
     their one two threes       . . .

   Copyright © 2024 by Brad Walrond.   Read more here.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Shaping poems with Pascal's Triangle

      One of my favorite websites to visit is "Poetry and Mathematics" -- a blog from poet Marian Christie.  Today I focus on her posting of poems with word-lengths structured by Pascal's Triangle; here is a sample:

Christie's complete Pascal Triangle posting -- with a triangle for each season -- is available at this link

Monday, February 19, 2024

Mathematician, Poet -- Blind to the worth of Women

     As we study mathematics and learn of outstanding mathematicians, many of us do not also learn which of those mathematicians also were poets.  A posting that I found recently in Marian Christie's blog, Poetry and Mathematics, features poetry by  Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-39).

     Maxwell's verse also is featured in the math-poetry anthology, Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A.K Peters, Ltd., 2008);  preview available here at

     Below I offer a stanza from a Maxwell poem (posted in this blog back in December, 2015) -- a stanza that shows the long-mistaken attitude that has existed about inferior abilities of math-women: 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Poems of Math -- from a teacher and his students

      Occasionally I Google the pair "mathematics, poetry" to see what a web search can find for me.  Many of the sites found this way are familiar -- including this blog and poetry I have cited herein.  But a few days ago I found a new site -- posted by the New England Literary Resource Center and featuring poems by a GED teacher Phillip Howard (at the Adult Literacy Center at Dorchester, MA) and his students.  Howard asks his students to write poems about math as a way of communicating their accomplishments and frustrations.   Here is the poem that Howard offers his students; their responses are collected here

       Me & Math       by  Phillip Howard

          I have a problem … a math problem
          Math is always throwing problems at me
          I solve 1 and Boom   Math throws a harder 1
          A Brain Buster … so I rage
          But I can’t GIVE UP MATH
          Math is in my blood … PROBLEMS CALL 2 ME
          I want 2 BREAK THE HABIT … but I can’t
          So I push MATH
          I push on the WEB
          I push on the STREETS
          I push in the CLASS
          I push MATH 2 YOU
          So YOU 2 have a MATH PROBLEM

Monday, February 12, 2024

Math Poems for Students of All Ages

      In my recent use of Google -- in search of mathy poems -- I came across this website:  38 Math Poems for Students in All Grade Levels (a featured page at  It contains these words:

"Poetry can transforms kids’ attitudes about math exponentially!"

Here's a sample.

And here is  a link to more about poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Rules that someone made up -- Is that MATH?

      As frequent readers of this blog know, I am indebted to many people for their contributions of poems -- their own and links to others.  An alert to today's poem came from Canadian poet Alice Major -- with previous contibutions to this blog found at this link.   The poem, "BOUNDARY CONDITIONS"  by Sneha Madhavan-Reese was published in the journal Rattle I offer, below, its opening and closing stanzas, followed by a link to the complete poem.

from   BOUNDARY CONDITIONS     by   Sneha Madhavan-Reese

                    who but men blame the angels for the wild
                           exceptionalism of men?   
 —Sam Sax, “Anti-Zionist Abecedarian”

       Along the border of any governed region, there exists a value which must
       satisfy its laws. This is a rule I learned for solving differential equations.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Going to Mars -- film profile of poet Nikki Giovanni

     Poet Nikki Giovanni is someone I much admire -- for her poetry and for her activism -- and recently I had had a chance to see the documentary film "Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project."  I valued learning more about Giovanni's life and was reminded to revisit her poetry.   In her 1975 collection, The Woman and the Men (of which I have an autographed copy), I re-found her poem "The Way I Feel" and I offer below its mathy final stanza during this 2024 leap year.   

from  THE WAY I FEEL   by Nikki Giovanni

            in my mind you're a clock
            and i'm the second hand sweeping
            around you sixty times an hour
            twenty-four hours a day
            three-hundred-sixty-five days a year
            and an extra day
            in leap year
            cause that's the way
            that's the way
            that's the way i feel
            about you

from The Women and the Men (William Morrow & Company, New York, 1975)

Friday, February 2, 2024

Distance and Time

        Poetry 180 was a project initiated back in 2002 by the poet laureate Billy Collins -- a project with the goal of providing for students a thoughtful and accessible poem for each day of the school year.  A recent email alerted me to a slightly mathy poem within that collection -- Poem 081, "After Years" by Iowa poet Ted Kooser (also a former US poet laureate);  I offer Kooser's poem below.

From Solo: A Journal of Poetry, 1996.

Today, February 2, is Groundhog Day.  Celebrate the day with some poems

Monday, January 29, 2024

Women in Math -- Don't Hide Them!!

     In the days and years since my schooling, the numbers of math-women have increased and their public recognition also has increased.  But not enough!  This list of 18 remarkable women in STEM includes only one math-woman  AND. here are several book-seller links to explore: 

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World
30 Remarkable Women in Science and Math
The First Woman in Space: Valentina Tereshkova
20 Greatest Mathematicians: Masters of Mathematics from the Past, Present, Future

     A very important math-influence in my life was my high school math teacher for my junior and senior years, Laura Church.  Today, exploring the internet, searching for her name, I found only this memorial statement and, although it tells of her teaching at Indiana Joint High School, it does not mention that her teaching-subject was math.  Here is a stanza that celebrates her:  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Mathematical Wellness

      As I read this poem, I was reminded of attitudes toward mathematics:

by poet Sunil Singh, from Words

Friday, January 19, 2024

Films about math and math-people

    One of my recent finds has been an article that offers a list of 20 films about math, mathematicians, and math-geniuses.  Eagerly, I opened the article to read about the films and to see which of them also involved poetry.  ALAS, I did not find that these math-people connected with poetry.  Following that non-find, I turned to a favorite source of mathy poems to discover something to post.

    That favorite source is Against Infinity, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp (Primary Press, 1979 and now out of print); this collection has been on my shelf for many years and is the first math-poetry anthology that I ever encountered.  Here is a poem from that collection, written by a Missouri high school senior, Carol Clark.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Poetry at the Joint Mathematics Meetings

        During January 4-7, 2024, mathematics meetings were held in San Francisco, CA.  Although unable to attend, I have spent some time browsing abstracts of the presentations there and found several that involve poetry.  Suzanne Sumner of the University of Mary Washington, gave a presentation entitled "How Poetry Informs the History of Mathematics" and here is a link to the abstract for Sumner's presenation.

     From Sumner's abstract I learn that the ancient Sanskrit scholar Acharya Pingala was likely to have been the first to use Fibonacci numbers and Pascal's triangle in his poetry. Using this blog's SEARCH feature, I found this link to prior mentions of Fibonacci in this blog and this link to mentions of Pascal.

Friday, January 12, 2024

A Mathy-Poetic Quote

     Recently my thoughts have turned often to these mathy-poetic words by Danish-American comedian-musician Victor Borge (1909-2000):

Laughter is the
shortest distance
between two people.

*  *  *  *

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Thinking with my fingers . . .

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

This quote from science fiction writer Isaac Asimov is found here along with other related views.  For me also -- with poetry or math or some other subject -- writing is an important thinking strategy:  my fingers with my pen lead me to new ideas.  And counting syllables shapes my words like this:

start with
just a few
words -- and write them --
AND my fingers help
to develop my thoughts.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Many accessible MATHY POEMS -- from BRIDGES

      One of the wonderful supporters of connections between mathematics and the arts has been BRIDGES, a conference-gathering that was initiated by Reza Sarhanghi (1952-2016) in 1998.  

     Here, at the BRIDGES website, one may find information about the upcoming 2024 conference.  This website also offers -- via the link Papers Archive -- access to conference papers from 1998 to 2023.  

     Poetry became part of the conference in 2011 and, at the link Mathematical Poetry, we are taken to a website maintained by math-poet Sarah Glaz -- a website that offers access to a vast and wonderful collection of poems, anthologies, recordings, videos, . . .

   Below I include an anthology sample, a very fine poem by Deanna Nikaido from the Bridges Stockholm 2018 Anthology.

     Ratio     by Deanna Nikaido

          They say there are two sides to everything.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Student Contests -- Essays, Poems -- Due by Feb. 1

 STUDENTS – Middle School, High School, College

    Write a Mathy POEM


    Interview a Math-Woman, write an ESSAY                                 about her

Entries are being accepted now – and up to FEBRUARY 1, 2024.

Information about the MATH-POETRY competition is available here.

Information about the MATH-WOMAN ESSAY CONTEST is available here.